Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Tea consumption and the reduced risk of colon cancer – results from a national prospective cohort study

L Joseph Sua1 c1 and Lenore Araba2

a1 Stanley S Scott Cancer Center and Departments of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, 1600 Canal Street, Suite 800, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

a2 Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA


Objective: This study examines the relationship between tea consumption and colon cancer risk in the US population.

Design: Data from the NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-up study (NHEFS) were used to examine the hypothesis. Cox proportional hazard models were used to examine the hypothesis of a protective effect of frequent tea consumption on colon cancer occurrence.

Setting: Due to differences in the precision of the exposure data, we analysed two cohort periods based on the NHEFS. Cohort I was based on the survey conducted at the NHEFS baseline and Cohort II began at the first follow-up.

Subjects: After excluding non-incidence cases and cases lost to follow-ups, there were 2359 tea users and 6498 non-tea users at baseline and 7656 tea users and 4514 non-tea users at the first follow-up.

Results: After adjusting for confounders, the relative risks of colon cancer are 0.57 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.42, 0.78) and 0.59 (95% CI = 0.35, 1.00) for subjects who consumed ≤1.5 cups and ≥1.5 cups per day, respectively, compared with non-tea users in Cohort II. Although more women consumed tea and the mean intake was higher, the preventive effect of tea consumption on colon cancer was found predominantly in men. The relative risks of colon cancer are 0.41 (95% CI = 0.25, 0.66) for men who consumed ≤1.5 cups day-1 and 0.30 (95% CI = 0.09, 0.98) for >1.5 cups day-1 of tea consumption (P-value for trend <0.01). No significant results were found in Cohort I.

Conclusions: This study suggests an inverse association between colon cancer risk and habitual tea consumption.

(Received January 26 2001)

(Accepted October 19 2001)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email